Vodafone has launched support for Massive MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) over 1800MHz FDD spectrum at a cell site in Paramatta.
The telco says the ‘4.9G’ technology will also be trialled at a handful of other sites, including Chinatown and Haymarket in Sydney.
“4.9G is supercharging our network, with customers in 4.9G areas to enjoy a higher quality network experience, smoother streaming, and more consistent speeds, even in times of high usage,” Vodafone chief technology officer Kevin Millroy said.
“The trial is another significant step towards 5G and we’ll be rolling out 4.9G to more areas as the year progresses.”
Massive MIMO can provide a significant capacity boost at a cell site.
Vodafone last year conducted its first field demonstration of the technology using Huawei’s Active Antenna Unit (AAU), which supports beam-forming through 32 small internal transceivers. The demo in the Sydney suburb of Cronulla employed 20MHz of spectrum in the 1800MHz band.
“The sites selected for the 4.9G trial are in high-density, high usage areas where we can really exercise the benefits we saw during the field demonstration,” Millroy said.
The CTO said that Vodafone “is investing in technologies that will help deliver real benefits to our customers now” rather than “focusing on stunts around 5G”.
Rival telcos Optus and Telstra have both recently staged high-profile demonstrations of 5G technology. Optus opened a public 5G demonstration centre on the Gold Coast. Telstra in February opened the doors of its 5G Innovation Centre, also on the Gold Coast, and offered access to what it described as the first precinct of 5G-enabled Wi-Fi hot spots in the world.
“We are focused on continuing to evolve and enhance our 4G network to deliver real benefits to our customers now, while Australians wait for the introduction of 5G to consumers in coming years,” Millroy said.
“Vodafone is well on the way to be 5G-ready once compatible spectrum becomes available, with the rollout of our fibre transmission network nearing completion and the on-going project to virtualise our core network.”